Today I am on my way to the beautiful Island of Mallorca to do some much needed cycling on my bike. I don't do holidays around a pool anymore having done it once not long after I qualified as a lifeguard. I spent two weeks patrolling the pool and couldn't relax.
Holiday tragedies are all to often something we hear about that happened to someone else whom we don't know.
So it wasn't long after I published my blog, "Drowning does NOT look like Drowning" when I was contacted by a gentleman called Brian Henning from Northern Ireland who relayed this story to me. He said that it struck a chord with him and he wanted to share his story to illustrate to others how in the blink of an eye your life could change forever!
Brian takes up the story;
"We were holidaying near St. Jean de Mont in western France as a family of 4, my wife, Lisa aged 6 and Michael aged 3, on a very secure campsite in a mobile home for 2 weeks.
I remember this particular day, their mum wanted to rest at the mobile and I took the kids to the pool area which was set in a very large garden/grassed area.
I remember it was packed with people close to the pool and we made our position about 30 metres away from the pool-side.
The kids were playing beside me as they had been in and out of the shallow end of the pool with me and had tired & I was lying in the sun enjoying watching them and thinking how lucky I was to have 2 healthy happy kids.
Lisa was a very active wee girl and would make friends very easily with other children so it wasn't unusual for her to just strike up a relationship within a few minutes.
I must have closed my eyes for a few minutes and amid all the noise of kids playing just switched off mentally, however I remember becoming aware of only Michael being with me and sat up to look around to see where Lisa was, however as I couldn't immediately see her I stood up and looked around but still couldn't see her.
My instinctive reaction was to become concerned she was in the pool, I walked over to the pool-side scanning the shallow end to see her but again there was no sign of her and I remember thinking how strange it was and at the same time getting this horrible feeling in my stomach.
As I moved closer to the edge of the pool and looked across the deep end there was still no sign of her, however just as I looked down, at my feet Lisa's face and 1 hand came up out of the water near the pool ladder!
I instinctively reached down and grabbed her hand and pulled her up onto pool-side where she was clearly distressed, spluttering & coughing up water.
When I got her calmed down she told me she had been trying to reach the ladder but couldn't get there (she was only a about a foot from it!) and I then realised she had already been up for air twice before I pulled her out.
I have no doubt that had I reached the edge of the pool a moment later my precious daughter would have drowned and no-one would have noticed anything till it was too late.
What struck me at the the time and also resonated reading your article was that there was no drama or noise from Lisa, just a wee girl silently struggling in water where there was a lot of splashing, noise & distractions from other kids enjoying a summers day in & around the pool.
I will never forget the moment I saw her wee hand and face and reached down to her, even though it is nearly 30 years ago & it still haunts me to this day how close I was to losing her...
I would never have gotten over it and would have blamed myself for the rest of my life.
Lisa now has 3 wee girls of her own.
I like to think it was divine intervention that made me walk right to the point where I could reach down and grab her hand as she struggled for a last breath, if it wasn't it was incredibly fortuitous luck."
A fortuitous happy ending for Brian and his family and a lesson learned!
Holiday fatalities in foreign countries and new pools tend to happen on the 1st day in the 1st few hours, when the excitement has built to fever pitch with masses of distractions, suddenly your wee loved one is out of sight – out of depth and at the bottom of a murky pool!
As simple as it sounds – children MUST have constant supervision around water and that even includes the bath. This means keeping your eye on them at all times!